Cavaliers vs. Heat Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Cleveland Cavaliers face the Miami Heat for the second game of a duplex set in Miami on Friday night. The Cavs won the prior meeting on Wednesday 104-100 behind a team-high 25 points from Darius Garland. Cleveland now holds a 2-1 lead in the season series heading into the last meeting of the season between these teams on Friday.
With under 15 games remaining in the season, this is an important matchup for both teams as the Cavs look to lock up a top-four seed while the Heat hope to surge forward toward the sixth seed (they are 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Brooklyn Nets).
Here’s my betting preview and prediction for Cavaliers vs. Heat below.
If the Cavs win and cover as short road favorites on Friday night, it will be because they shoot better from beyond the arc than they did on Wednesday to complement their size advantage inside.
The Cavs shot poorly on Wednesday as they made just 32.1% of their 3s (9-28). The Heat defense, which is designed to make opponents shoot jumpers against them, ranks third in preventing shots at the rim (29.5% of opponent shots, per Cleaning The Glass) but also ranks 29th in 3-point shots allowed (39.5% of opponent shots).
The Cavs need to capitalize on their opportunities from beyond the arc, especially when the Heat load up against their twin towers of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. Look for Donovan Mitchell, who went 7-of-18 from the floor and 1-of-7 on 3s, to step up on Friday.
If the Heat win or cover as short home underdogs against the Cavs, it will be because Jimmy Butler has a big night and they take better care of the basketball.
This Heat team has run into the shooting regression monster as they went from being the most accurate 3-point shooting team in the NBA last season (38.6%) to the third-least accurate 3-point shooting team this season (33.9%). Consequently, their offense went from ranking 11th in Offensive Rating last season (114.2) to 25th this season (112.1).
For the Heat to somewhat punch above their weight class on offense against an elite Cavs defense, they need Jimmy Butler at his best. While some have noted that putting size on Butler slows him down, he looked impressive on Wednesday as he used pump fakes and rip-throughs to get advantages against bigger Cavs defenders en route to a team-high 28 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Butler tried to involve smaller Cavs defenders as much as possible to either get switches (which the Cavs didn’t want to give him) or put the defense in the scramble drill.
The Heat only played nine players on Wednesday, but eight of those nine players had at least two turnovers as they tallied 22 total giveaways. Their 25.8% Turnover Rate ranked in the 0th percentile, per Cleaning The Glass. The Heat already struggle with their perimeter shooting, and they can’t afford to give the ball away against a solid Cavs team.
With this being an important bounce-back spot for the Heat and Kyle Lowry remaining out, I’m counting on another big performance from Jimmy Butler. I like this spot for the Heat as well, but I’m more confident in a big time Butler performance than the Heat, who have been the worst NBA team ATS this season, coming through with a win (and cover) against a Cavs team that I think is better.
Since Lowry last played for the Heat on February 2, Butler has seen an uptick in Usage Rate. He went from 25.8% Usage before February 2 to 28.8% since then. Over the last six games, all of which have come against Eastern Conference teams likely to make the playoffs, Butler has stepped it up even more as he has averaged 37.8 Points + Rebounds + Assists over this span while recording at least 33 PRA in five of those six games (with the only exception being a 23-point blowout loss).
In a small sample size of three games against the Cavs in the Evan Mobley era, Butler has yet to record more than five rebounds in a game. The Cavs choose not to switch on Butler defensively, which has minimized his rebounding ability as there often has been one or two Cavs bigs lurking near the rim on defense.
For this reason, I’m playing Butler Over 26.5 Points + Assists (bet up to 27.5) instead of the PRA line, and I also like the value of Butler Under 5.5 Rebounds (+108 at FanDuel, go no lower than 5.5) if you want to get more aggressive with a same-game parlay.